Sliced patola (luffa, loofah, sponge gourd) is sauteed with garlic and chilies, beaten eggs are stirred in and cooked just until set. Chili garlic patola and egg is delicious, nutritious and inexpensive.
But… loofah? The thing you scrub your skin with when bathing? Well, yes. Patola is a fruit-vegetable related to the cucumber. While it is food, if you dry it long enough so that only the fibers remain, you get loofah, the bath sponge.
I don’t know how many cultures value loofah only insofar as the dried form is useful for scrubbing the skin. In the Philippines and most parts of Asia, it is cooked as a vegetable.
Patola is notoriously mushy and kind of slimy, and it has never been among my favorite vegetables. I discovered, however, that if patola is young — VERY young — you don’t need to cut off the skin and, after cooking, the mushiness becomes less pronounced because you get so much crunch from the skin.
And I discovered that how? Our cleaning lady gifted us with a variety of vegetables that she harvested from her backyard. Oh, I envy her green thumb. Her family eats mostly home-grown vegetables that grow without chemical fertilizer. Organic in the truest sense of the word.
So, among the vegetables she gave us was patola. And I was amazed how much smaller they were than the ones I see in the market and grocery. The skin is smoother and thinner too. I decided to simply cut off the tops and leave the skin on.
The result was amazing. I am now a patola convert. No longer will I scoff at this humble vegetable. Ever. Well, so long as I stick to very young patola that I can cook with the skin on.
Chili Garlic Patola and Egg
- Rinse the patola well under the tap.
- Cut off the tops of the patola and discard. Slice the patola into halves lengthwise then cut into half inch slices.
- Peel the garlic and mince.
- Finely slice the chilies.
- Heat the cooking oil.
- Saute the garlic and chilies gently until fragrant, about a minute.
- Add the patola slices, toss and drizzle in a teaspoon of fish sauce. Cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally, until the patola is cooked through but before the inside turns too mushy.
- Stir the soy sauce into the beaten eggs and drizzle over the patola. Cook, stirring gently, just until set.
- Taste and drizzle in more fish sauce, if needed.
- Garnish with more chili slices (optional) and serve immediately.